The Benjamin Franklin class of submarine was an evolutionary development from the James Madison class of fleet ballistic missile submarine. Having quieter machinery and other improvements, they are considered a separate class. A subset of this class is the re-engineered 640 class starting with USS George C. Marshall (SSBN-654). Together with the George Washington, Ethan Allen, Lafayette, and James Madison classes, they comprised the "41 for Freedom" original 41 fleet ballistic missile submarines.
The Benjamin Franklin-class submarines were built with the Polaris A-3 ballistic missile, and later converted to carry the Poseidon C-3. During the late 1970s and early 1980s, selected units were further modified to carry Trident-I (C-4) ballistic missiles.
Two submarines of this class were converted for delivery of special warfare units ashore. In the early 1990s, to make room for the Ohio-class ballistic missile submarines within the limits set by the SALT II strategic arms limitation treaty, the ballistic missile tubes of USS Kamehameha (SSBN-642) and USS James K. Polk (SSBN-645) were disabled. Those boats were redesignated special operations attack submarines and given attack submarine (SSN) hull numbers.
USS Kamehameha was decommissioned on 2 April 2002, the last ship of the Benjamin Franklin class to be decommissioned.
Submarines of the Benjamin Franklin class: (Submarines marked with * indicate Trident C-4 ballistic missile conversions.)
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